Previously winless Chivas USA used a second half tally from FW Casey Townsend to send the home side to a 0-1 defeat in front of a sold out crowd of 20,415 at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Real Salt Lake saw its perfect start to the 2012 MLS campaign come to a crashing halt Saturday night, despite holding a 61%-39% advantage in possession and 13-6 margin in shots, Real Salt Lake (2-1-0, 6 pts.) could not manage to get anything past Chivas USA (1-2-0, 3 pts.) and their goalkeeper Dan Kennedy, who made three big saves to keep the high-octane RSL attack off the board.
The game saw controversy early on, as an apparent goal by RSL defender Chris Schuler in the 11th minute was pulled off the board after a quick restart by the Utah side was nullified by referee Mark Kadlecik. A few minutes later, RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando stepped up to make back-to-back saves, stopping chances deep inside the penalty area by both MF Peter Vagenas and former RSL’er DF Rauwshan McKenzie. FW Fabián Espíndola’s right-footed shot from a near angle in the 22nd minute marked RSL’s best chance of the opening half, but Kennedy was on the spot to protect his left post and keep the match scoreless.
Real Salt Lake’s halftime insertion of MF Javier Morales and FW Álvaro Saborío would cause more work for the Chivas USA defense in the second half, but it was Townsend that would make the difference in the 72nd minute. The rookie striker did well to rise over Schuler and reach MF Nick LaBrocca’s cross with his head at the same time Rimando tried to punch it clear before poking the subsequent loose ball home at the top of the six, giving the visitors their first goal of the campaign and a 1-0 lead.
Saborío had a golden opportunity to equalize five minutes later off of a Morales free kick, but, after losing his mark, the Costa Rican international sent his header from six yards just wide left. After a handful more dead ball opportunities went fruitless for RSL down the stretch, it was Espíndola nearly getting the equalizer in stoppage time, but his far-post effort from 15 yards would be pushed aside by Kennedy to preserve the shock result for Chivas USA.